Degree, Check. Here are Some Options to Fine Tune Your Degree for the Real World
Congratulations! You did the time, you took the tests, you passed the classes, and now you are a bona fide grad. Four years of hard work, and you have the certificate to prove it. Bring on the job offers!
If only it were that simple.
Competition in the real world is fierce, so your degree may need some fine-tuning to help you stand out from among the crowd. Here are some options to help make your degree work for you in the real world.
Identify your skills and use them to your advantage
If you made it all the way to graduation with no earthly idea of what you wanted to do when you got your diploma, then there’s no time like the present to ask some very crucial questions.
- What have you learned?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What areas of your major did you like/dislike?
- What things do you enjoy doing?
- What is your dream job?
Once you have the answers, you will have a better idea of your own capabilities and preferences, which will allow you to identify your unique skillset. Now, own it! Employers are looking for people who can apply what they’ve learned, solve problems, and positively impact their company.
Get an entry-level job
Getting a degree is often essential to landing a well-paying job; however, it gets you nowhere on the job front unless you have work experience to go with it. Ah, the good ol’ catch-22 – you need a job to gain work experience, but you can’t gain work experience without a job. Now what?
First, you need a plan. Think long and hard about what you liked best about your degree and apply for those jobs that even remotely fit the bill. Even if you have to start at the very bottom and work your way up, getting your foot in the door is sometimes the best way to break into the biz.
Freelance work is another way to help you gain experience. Want to be a journalist? Start writing pieces and submitting them ad-hoc to help you build your portfolio.
No entry-level jobs available? Try an internship on for size. Yes, an internship does mean you will be working for free, but it is truly the easiest way to show off your skills and start building a network. Contact a few employers that you would like to work for and offer to work just for the experience. Definitely set a cap on your time that will give them the option of hiring you or allowing you to go on your way so you don’t get taken advantage of, and then spend your time wisely, learning everything you can and showing them what you can do. Worst case scenario? You don’t get hired, but now you have some oh-so-crucial work experience to help you land your next job.
Need a little encouragement? Check out a few internship success stories from Upper Iowa University grads!
The major downside to getting an internship is that there is no money going into your bank account. If you can’t afford to work for free – and how many of us really can – then the next option is to find a job that you can tolerate while you fine tune your degree with additional education. The benefits of a master’s degree heavily outweigh the cost.
While there is no guaranteed path to success, only you can make things happen for yourself. Seize all opportunities, no matter how small, to use what you have learned in college and prove your professional worth. The amazing post-graduate team at Upper Iowa University can help you find unique ways to market your skills and use your degree to your advantage, so give us a call today!